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Mexico in the American Imagination

During the Porfiriato American investors were lured to Mexico with very generous concessions and colorful marketing brochures. As the Revolution gained momentum, it attracted many other Americans: journalists, commercial and amateur photographers, and crews from the nascent film industry.

John Reed was a young reporter from Metropolitan Magazine and New York World who spent four months with Pancho Villa’s troops in Mexico. His articles on Pancho Villa contributed to Villa’s legendary status among American audiences as a type of Robin Hood figure. Reed’s Insurgent Mexico, based on those articles, gained him a popular following before he left for Europe and after a short stay in the United States. Reed gained further fame as a witness to the Russian Revolution.

The nascent film industry also portrayed the Revolution “as it happened.” Pancho Villa had contacts with early Hollywood studios to stage some of his battles against the federales, ready for the camera to catch all the excitement.

Book cover of "Insurgent Mexico" with a revolutionary aiming a rifle
Insurgent Mexico by John Reed. New York and London: D. Appleton & Company, 1914.
Stanford Rare Books Collection: F1234 .R32 1914.

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